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Could the Supreme Court Wait Until 2016 to Rule on ObamaScare?

Over at Freedom Works, Dean Clancy posits a freaky proposition: the Supreme Court may postpone a ruling on Obamascare until 2016. (That’s not a typo–it’s my new term for the monstrosity piece of legislation: ObamaScare.)

Say what?

“Specifically, the high Court increased the time it will devote to hearing oral arguments on whether the health care mandate is a tax for purposes of something called the Tax Anti-Injunction Act (26 U.S.C. § 7421(a)).”

Clancy, Legislative Counsel and Vice President of Health Care Policy, points out that the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, enacted in 1867:

“sweepingly forbids any court from hearing any case in which any person attempts to prevent the assessment or collection of a tax. Once the tax has been assessed and collected, however, a court may hear a case on it. The ObamaCare mandate is enforced by means of a penalty fine, collected by the IRS. With a few exceptions, this fine will be imposed on every citizen who doesn’t check a box on his tax return affirming that he has purchased government-controlled health insurance.”

Now we all know that the Obama administration speaks out of both sides of their collective mouth. Last week on Capitol Hill, Obama’s acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients testified before a House Budget Committee that the penalty for not buying health insurance as the government mandate is not a tax. See the exchange with Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) here.

So, if it’s not a tax, then this blatantly contradicts what Obama Administration lawyers are arguing across the street before the Supreme Court. In that august building, Obama lawyers contend it is a tax and therefore subject to the aforementioned Tax Anti-Injunction Act.

Clancy continues:

“Is the IRS penalty a tax, or not? So far, lower federal courts have come down on both sides of this issue. And for complicated legal reasons, the Obama Administration has actually been taking boths sides on it: in Congress, the President’s men say it’s not a tax; in court, they say it is.

If the high Court decides the mandate is a tax, it will be a dream come true for the Administration:

  • President Obama faces reelection in November 2012.
  • ObamaCare doesn’t go into full operation until January 2014.
  • The first time the IRS can levy the mandate penalty/tax won’t be until folks file their tax returns, in mid-April 2015.
  • The slow judicial process will likely delay a final Supreme Court ruling until mid-2016.

Until now, everyone has been assuming the Court will rule on the law’s constitutionality in early July, five full months before the 2012 elections.

And we’ve all been assuming that, however the Court rules, the ruling will provide voters with a critical piece of information: What does the Supreme Court think about ObamaCare’s constitutionality?

Alas, today’s development calls that assumption into doubt. The Court might punt!"


You can read the rest of Clancy’s article here.


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